Opposition parties affiliated to the moribund Nasa coalition meet Monday to agree on the sharing of the Sh4.1 billion windfall from the Exchequer.
This is after the four parties — ODM, Wiper, ANC and Ford-Kenya — failed to agree on the sharing formula in a meeting chaired by the Registrar of Political Parties on Thursday.
ODM, which was recently awarded the billions by the Court of Appeal, so far maintains that it does not owe Wiper, ANC and Ford Kenya a cent.
Ms Anne Nderitu, the newly appointed registrar, has been leading efforts to have the parties strike a deal over the matter.
As they seek mediation, former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper, ANC led by Musalia Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya party leader Moses Wetang’ula are separately pursuing the matter with the Orange party.
Wiper Secretary-General Judy Sijeny says it is only fair that ODM shares the Sh4.1 billion with the other partners in the Nasa coalition they contributed to it by virtue of supporting Mr Odinga’s presidential candidate in 2017.
“We should sit and agree on how the money should be divided. We have initiated the talks and are waiting to see if they will comply this time,” she said. The money is only applicable to Cord which comprised ODM, Wiper and Ford Kenya.”
Ms Sijeny regretted that Mr Odinga’s party has equally not been sharing with them the monies accrued to them after the 2017 elections. She told Sunday Nation that they had written to Orange House to fast-track the process.
“If they fail to negotiate, we will follow the channels available to us but our hope is that we can sort this as a family,” she added.
Her Ford Kenya counterpart and Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu was hopeful that an amicable solution could be found without so much fight.
“We have engaged ODM and the registrar of parties on this,” he said.
Dr Simiyu blames ‘selfish individuals’ he says amended the law to institute a higher threshold for parties to qualify for the fund.
“It is not good for our young democracy,” he regrets.
Ms Nderitu advises parties in coalitions to always ensure they have tighter agreements for easy arbitration in cases of fall out.
“What is important is what the coalition agreement says. Parties should abide by what the document says,” she stated.
According to the law, a political party is not entitled to funding if it does not secure at least three percent of the total number of votes at the preceding General Election. And if more than two-thirds of its registered office bearers are of the same gender.
It must also have at least 20 elected members of the National Assembly, three elected members of the Senate; three elected Governors; and forty members of County Assemblies. Only Jubilee and ODM met the criteria after the last General Election.
ANC spokesman Barack Muluka says that while they do not stake a claim on the Sh4 billion windfall, the Orange party in the spirit of comradeship should be magnanimous enough to share it with them.
“What we can talk about is the disbursements made after Nasa came into being and which ODM has violated the sharing formula in the coalition agreement. We will pursue this at an appropriate time,” he said.
ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, however, indicated that they had explained to their partners that since they do not receive any cash on the account of the presidential election, they owed them none.
“What we get is as a result of the seats of governors, MPs and MCAs and the registrar too has told them. That the August 8 presidential election was nullified, and we boycotted the repeat poll. As such, we are not eligible for that account,” he said.
But Mr Muluka pointed out that according to the coalition agreement if a partner does not meet the criteria as stipulated in the Act, the party receiving will distribute to the others on the basis of presidential vote equally. The reasoning being, the effort to get the presidential vote was equal, he said.
Mr Sifuna said in the Cord days (2013-2017), Wiper and Ford Kenya got their fair share of the fund.
“When we get the Sh4.1 billion, and after subtracting all the legal expenses, we will pay what is due to them since the period partly covers Cord days. They should therefore not worry,” he said.
Unlike any other time, the party has higher chances of getting the money even if in tranches given the prevailing handshake environment. Mr Odinga made up with President Uhuru Kenyatta last year. If not for this, the government would not honour such a court order that seeks to empower its opponent.
They would have naturally delayed it in perpetuity through court appeals.
On Friday, Mr Sifuna urged the National Treasury to swiftly release the money, saying it was delaying the roll-out of the activities they have lined up.
“We have reminded Treasury about the court order that requires them to comply with the political parties Act. We are looking at the budget proposals and estimates and we want to see a reflection of obedience to the court order,” he said.
The court arrived at the Sh4.1 billion after it allowed the party’s prayer to backdate the accrued monies between November 2011 and 2016, covering four financial years.
Ms Nderitu says more parties benefiting from the fund is good for the country’s nascent democracy.
“It is the wish of our office that more parties benefit from the kitty. We could expand the formula to include more of them, but this can only happen if the criteria are reviewed and approved by National Assembly,” she said.
Given that only Jubilee and ODM parties benefit from an allocation the Treasury releases in financial quarters, many parties with reasonable representation in Parliament and county assemblies rely on member contributions to run their affairs.
But those opposed to the move warn of great risk in opening it up, saying briefcase parties would find their way back into mainstream politics.
FIVE PER CENT
By the end of June, which also marks the end of the financial year, Jubilee and ODM shall have pocketed about Sh371 million with the office of the registrar retaining five per cent for administration.
For the criteria for distribution of the fund, a qualified party gets 80 per cent of the fund distributed proportionately by reference to the number of votes secured by each political party in the preceding General Election.
The other 15 per cent is, based on the number of candidates of the party from special interest groups elected in the preceding general election. The remainder is retained by the Registrar.